The Bond of Love by Nicole Howe

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Below is a guest post from my dear friend and fellow graduate student at HBU.  It is a beautiful reflection on the Holy Spirit.  Enjoy!   

“The Bond of Love” by Nicole Howe

Arguing for the existence of God is becoming especially difficult in a materialistic culture that demands knowledge come exclusively via empirical and scientific means. The difficulty is not due to a lack of evidence for God’s existence, (nor for the historicity of Jesus), but because God’s entire being is something that ultimately transcends our material world.

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Divine Providence and Human Free Will

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“The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt

“For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”  ~ Philippians 1:6

In his book, Classic Christianity, Thomas C. Oden likens the complex interaction between divine providence and human freedom to “good human parenting.”[1]  He writes that “the providence of God guides human freedom in four phases: by permitting, restraining, overruling, and limiting our choices.”[2]  Part of God’s providential care and purpose is to permit us to fail “in order to allow the larger good of enabling freedom.”[3]  At times, God does restrain our actions by non-coercively and indirectly hindering us.  He hedges us in.[4]  He will directly overrule our choices either by correction and discipline or by turning what was meant for evil into good or to spur spiritual growth.  Odens writes, “God guides wisely by going ahead of our present freedom to prepare a new way … opening some doors, closing others … grace [preventing] freedom’s way from leading to disaster, or from tempting inordinately.”[5]

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The Riddle of Suffering

The Body of Christ Borne to the Tomb c.1799-1800 by William Blake 1757-1827

“The Body of Christ Borne to the Tomb” by William Blake, watercolor

“Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
(Psalm 10:1)

If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does He allow so much suffering?  Arguably, this question lies at the core of human existence.  The silence that seems to greet it pierces our hearts.  Who will comfort us?

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“Who do you say I am?” Paradox at the Heart of Orthodoxy

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Christ Appearing to His Disciples After the Resurrection, by William Blake, ca. 1795

“It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.”[1]

What Christians believe is of utmost importance and Christian orthodoxy is defined not only by specific dogmas but by the theories that have been rejected.  The modern mind tends to think of the concept of orthodoxy in a negative light.  It is seen as confining and oppressive.  That orthodoxy has often been used as a tool for tyranny is true, but its abuse does not render it useless.

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